Muckraker: Grist on Politics

John McCain and his campaign have been ribbing Barack Obama for his statement last week that if Americans made sure their tires were properly inflated it could save as much oil as would be found in offshore areas. The McCain team went so far as to hand out tire gauges at the Democratic candidates’s events. Obama jabbed back yesterday, and now McCain in conceding the accuracy of his rival’s statement.

“And could I mention that Sen. Obama a couple of days ago said that we ought to all inflate our tires, and I don’t disagree with that,” McCain said last night in a “tele-town hall meeting” with Pennsylvania voters. “The American Automobile Association strongly recommends it.”

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Indeed, according to government figures, keeping your tires properly inflated gives you a 3 percent fuel economy benefit. Getting regular tune-ups gives you a 4 percent fuel economy benefit. Replacing your air filters can save up to 10 percent, and using the right grade of motor oil can save you up to 2 percent. Meanwhile, energy experts estimate that the U.S. only holds a total of 3 percent of the world’s oil supply. So even if we drilled in every hole, we couldn’t find nearly as much oil as could be saved via efficiency.

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Below is a bonus video of McCain in April promoting energy conservation, including advice to “turn out the lights five minutes earlier.” It’s unclear whether he advocates sitting in the dark for a while or simply going to sleep earlier.